Let’s start this with a disclaimer: The criteria here is my own. I’m 24-years old and was a registered MFFL as early as 2005. So on my list, you might notice some large omissions. Guys like Nash, Finley, and Rolondo Blackman.
Not that those players aren’t loved and appreciated, but I just simply wasn’t around to appreciate them in their own time.
However, they can be on your own list. The criteria is yours and only yours.
There is only one rule however: Dirk cannot be included on your list.
We’ve excluded him from this conversation because well…He’s at the top of everybody’s list. It’s a given. Hopefully his exclusion creates variety and interesting combinations for all of you.
Without further ado, Let’s go ahead and get started with ours…
5. Tyson Chandler, 2011, 2015.
Put anyone from the 2011 team here and it’s acceptable.
But Tyson Chandler’s impact on that squad cannot be overstated. His toughness and grit on the interior was something the franchise had missed for the entirety of Dirk’s career. It’s certainly not a coincidence that the first year they filled that void, they brought home the hardware.
In one single bound, he changed the teams culture and D-N-A. While it was tempting to select some of the more explosive scorers or athletically-gifted players in the franchise’s history, I couldn’t in my heart of hearts take them over Tyson. His impact was just too great.
You can practically feel the energy emanating from Tyson in this video. His toughness, grit, and defense in those 2011 Finals send a chill down my spine to this day.
Trust me, it took a lot to not put the clip of him swatting the shoe up there. But his impact on this franchise is too great to put something so gimmicky in its place.
After all, Dirk, JET, and the rest of them aren’t champions without him. We will cherish him forever because of that.
4. Josh Howard, 2003 – 2010
I’ll always have a soft spot for Josh Howard because his rise came at the time I came into basketball fandom. He is etched into my earliest hoops memories, for better or for worse, and I’ll never forget him because of it.
Josh spent six seasons with the team before being apart of the Caron Butler trade. During those six years, Josh was a steady source of solid wing play on both ends of the floor and helped propel the franchise to all new heights.
I remember being so full of pride watching him play alongside Dirk in the 2007 all-star game. Even as a replacement, he was so deserving. It almost felt like we got to watch him grow up and that was a neat experience.
While Josh never got the ending he wanted or deserved here, I’m sure all Mavs fans look back at his tenure as a resounding success.
I don’t have one singular moment that comes to mind when I think of Josh. However there are a couple things about him I remember vividly: His slithery drives & handles, lots of mid-range buckets, and always being the guy spotted-up in the corner for threes.
I think this highlight package does a great job encapsulating all of those things. Enjoy!
3. Monta Ellis, 2013-2015
When Monta signed with Dallas back in the summer of 2013, I admittedly was not a fan. I thought he was an inefficient, me-first, shot-chucking combo guard.
Couple that with the fact that he came as a consolation prize after the Mavs missed on yet another big-name free agent, and I was not “thrilled” heading into the 2013 season.
However, it didn’t take long for Monta to win me over. In fact, I was actually in attendance for his Mav debut – a home bout with the Atlanta Hawks.
Monta scored 32 points on only 17 shots that night, all while dishing out eight assists. He led the team to a 118-109 victory to kick off the 2013 season and set the tone for what his tenure in the Big D would look like.
Monta was a strong clutch-time performer in his time in Dallas. He notched several games winners, including an unforgettable one over the Milwaukee Bucks back in 2014.
But his Game 6 outburst against San Antonio is probably the most fond memory I have of Monta.
Dallas needed every bit of his 29 points to stay alive that day, and Ellis’ trademark speed and shotmaking carried them home.
2. Luka Doncic, 2018-present
20 years from now, there will probably be a sports blogger like myself making his list of favorite Mavericks, with the caveat that neither Dirk OR Luka can be included. Because as we know, Doncic is special and one of the few Mavs ever who has the juice to reach Dirk levels of reverence amongst the fanbase. Obviously, that takes years of excellence and dedication to the franchise, but no doubt about it, Luka has the chops.
He really endeared himself to the fans from day one. I mean, what is not to like about a prodigiously-talented 19-year-old with boy-ish charm? The NBA and it’s fans certainly couldn’t get enough of it, as Luka rapidly became one of it’s most popular players.
But anyone who was lulled to sleep by Luka’s unassuming demeanor was quickly made aware of him on the floor. 77 put everybody on notice that he had arrived, displaying a fully-developed game and a stone-cold killer’s mentality in crunch time.
While it hurts we will have to wait to get our first glimpse of Playoff Luka, we can all take solace in the fact that he is sure to be around for a long time.
In just under two years, Luka has given us countless “wow” moments.
His 11-0 run against Houston stands out. The rainbow corner three to tie the game against Portland would be a good option here, but I really like this performance against Houston back in November of 2019 the most.
It’s not his most clutch showing, it’s not a triple-double or anything like that, but what it signified to me was ownership of the Houston Rockets. Not literally obviously, but this was the third time in his early career that he had completely demoralized the Rockets and their fans.
Division games are always crucial and Luka has made an early habit of slaying the Mavs most bitter rivals. The same way that Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili tormented the Mavs for years, Luka gets to return that favor. And this was the game I had that realization.
1. Jason Terry, 2004-2012
There have been better players to come through the franchise. I’m sure Terry would readily admit that. But I’m not sure any Mav other than Dirk has earned unconditional love and adoration from the fans quite like the JET.
He was here through all-time highs, as well as the soul-crushing lows, all the while representing this team and city with pride. Dirk & JET were the last standing members of the team that collapsed in ’06 & ’07, so we all got to feel for them when they got vindication in 2011. It was a truly a once-in-a-lifetime sports moment that none of this us will forget.
We’d be short-changing him however, to speak only of our sentimental attachment to JET. Jason Terry was an absolute baller. His 2009 6th Man of the Year award was proof of that. And any longtime Mavs fan would tell you how money the Jet/Dirk two-man game was. The franchise seemingly rode it every year to a 50-win season.
As some of you might remember, Dirk struggled early in the series clincher against Miami, starting that game 1-of-12 from the floor. That’s what makes Jason Terry’s 27-point explosion all the more special, because Dirk had willed the team to that point. And when he was worn out and needed a boost, who other than his longtime partner-in-crime to save the day?
This was the storybook ending that both of our beloved heroes deserved and I’m sure we will all cherish it forever.
Well…that’s my list. Who is on yours? Leave comments below!
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